College football enters its second full weekend of games on the Saturday before the NFL slate kicks off in full for Week 1. The Detroit Lions will have scouts out at college games around the country evaluating players who could interest them in the 2023 NFL draft.
Here are some of the players to know and watch from a Lions scouting perspective. The list features two games where Detroit is confirmed to be sending scouting staff on Saturday.
Florida vs. Kentucky
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A showdown in the SEC will have all sorts of scouting attention focused on two potential Top-10 overall QBs.
Will Levis, QB, Kentucky – Levis conjures strong stylistic comparisons to Ryan Tannehill of the Titans. He’s a big, athletic quarterback who throws well on the run and isn’t afraid to take shots. His accuracy on shorter throws and anticipatory throws are areas where scouts want to see Levis improve.
Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida – If you watched the Gators romp over Utah last weekend, you saw Richardson at his best. He’s big, mobile, smart with the ball and blessed with outstanding acceleration and vision as a runner out of the pocket. He’s very green; this will be Richardson’s third career start.
They aren’t the only players worth scouting in this game, which will feature at least one member of the Lions staff in attendance.
Brenton Cox, EDGE, Florida – Cox was easy to spot in the win over Utah, showing speed and vision in making 10 total tackles and nicely avoiding blocks. Cox, a transfer from Georgia, toyed with declaring last year but came back for another year in Gainesville. Arrow pointing up for the athletic Cox, who has a similar body type to Lions EDGE Julian Okwara.
Florida S Trey Dean III, LB Ventrell Miller and RG O’Cyrus Torrance are all on the Senior Bowl watchlist and fit what the Lions look for at their respective positions. Pay attention to Torrance, a 340-pound transfer from Louisiana who did not allow a sack in 2021.
Alabama vs. Texas
DeMarvion Overshown, LB, Texas – He was a player the Lions spent some time scouting in 2021 before option to return to the Longhorns for another season. Overshown does a little bit of everything at LB but his best attribute is his closing speed. He uses his 6-foot-4 length in coverage smartly, a la Bobby Okereke of the Colts.
Jordan Battle, S, Alabama – One of the highest-rated defensive backs entering the season, Battle can play any role asked of a safety. His length, strength and quick reactions make him a potential star. Playing more patiently and staying on his feet longer when making a tackle could make Battle a top-20 overall pick next spring.
The Lions will have representation at the game in Austin. Some other players to know:
Jermaine Burton, WR, Alabama
DeMarcco Hellams, S, Alabama
D’Shawn Jamison, CB, Texas
Moro Ojomo, DT, Texas
Eli Ricks, CB, Alabama
Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
Iowa vs. iowa State
After what happened with Iowa last week, a touchdown-less 7-3 win over an FCS school, it’s easy to turn away from watching the Hawkeyes. But then you’d miss LB Jack Campbell, a guy who could definitely intrigue the Lions staff.
Campbell has good range from the middle despite being 250 pounds. It’s rare to see him blocked on a play and he reliably finishes with power. If he wants to sneak into Day 2 of the draft, Campbell will need to show more burst and polished coverage skills. He’ll be tested in this rivalry game. It helps that he’s got a draftable LB next to him in Jestin Jacobs, too.
Iowa State WR Xavier Hutchinson brings size (6-3/210) and ability to go get the ball away from his body. His routes are sharp and Hutchinson has an extra gear once he’s got the ball in his hands. Cyclones running mate Sean Shaw Jr. offers even more length at 6-foot-6 and has the tools to work with as a possible conversion to TE.
Then there’s Cyclones EDGE Will McDonald, the school’s all-time sack leader already. McDonald can win inside or outside and plays the run well on his way to the QB, though he’s not a standout athlete. Think former fourth-rounder Dean Lowry, now with the Packers.
Baylor vs. BYU
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BYU QB Jaren Hall is someone who has been projected in the first round in several of the “too-early” mock drafts. He’s got that kind of arm talent and decision-making ability. Hall is already 24 and maxed out physically at 6-foot-1 and 205 pounds, so there are some drawbacks. But watching him throw the ball with expert precision and efficiency is tough to ignore.
Baylor DT Siaki Ika can be a major disruptor on the interior. He fits the Lions’ gap-attacking scheme with a very nice first step for a guy who weighs in around 350 pounds. The LSU transfer doesn’t play with the stoutness you’d expect from a guy that size, and it’s worth tracking how often he stays on the field against the versatile Cougars offense.